Gone are the grand visions of urban redevelopment that rose Athena-like from the City Hall bullpen under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. De Blasio has retained lofty language to describe his ideas—adding adjectives like “transcendent” and “historic” when presenting proposals. But his attempts to remake swaths of the city in a Bloombergian manner have sputtered.
Sunnyside Yards in Queens, where the mayor hopes to build an 11,000-unit affordable housing complex on top of a platform, is a years-long dream that may never be realized. His transit plans, including a $2.5 billion streetcar project along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront and a new subway line through Utica Avenue, haven’t gotten past preliminary stages. And his administration has equivocated over the future of Willets Point, where the courts blocked plans to build a mall and 2,500 units of housing on the blighted site next to Citi Field.
Instead, de Blasio made affordable housing the centerpiece of his agenda and touted pro-tenant measures, including rent freezes for rent-stabilized units.
“The real estate community, like any other business sector, prefers certainty,” explained Ken Fisher, a Cozen O’Conner attorney and former councilman. “After four years of working with Bill de Blasio and his team, people have a pretty good idea of expectations. He has a strong preference for affordable housing, but the mayor has taken a very clear position that he’s for many different kinds of housing development, not just low-income housing.”
De Blasio made that clear in his 2015 State of the City address when he proclaimed that the other successes of his administration would be at risk if the city and developers didn’t build enough housing for residents of all income levels.